Self Guided Safari Is The Way To Go

by Helen Maroon
(USA)

Lion on main road coming in Malelane Gate

Lion on main road coming in Malelane Gate

Lion on main road coming in Malelane Gate My favourite Egyptian geese Cheetah

We saw a male lion first thing walking down the road towards us on the main road & ended our drive with a cheetah near Crocodile Bridge rest camp. In between we saw lots of giraffes, rhinos, zebras, wildebeest, steenboks, impala, kudus and a warthog. An amazing day! The lion and cheetah were equally exciting as so close to the car!

Safari Agent Performance and Self-Guiding

I found African Safari Journals on the internet and would highly recommend your services.

Your help was fantastic. We followed your drives as much as possible. Everything you planned was perfect. We did our whole trip for less than 10K US$ which was our goal. Not many people can say they've been on safari for 2 weeks for that price.

Our airline flights were perfect too...no delays anywhere.

We rented a vehicle from Thrifty Car Rental - only complaint is that the car was under-powered and had a manual transmission. 2.2 liter engine does not produce enough power to pass on N-4 and N-12.

We had a GPS for Jo'burg which was necessary.

The night drive from Jo'burg to Sudwala was bad... hard rain, heavy traffic, fog. I think I'd spend the night in Jo'burg before we tried that again.

In Kruger Park self-guiding, following Wilma's daily drives was excellent, no problem finding wildlife. We had good days & not so good, but that was luck with the wildlife. Not that we weren't looking in the right places.

We ended our visit up at Satara. We exited through Orpen Gate and drove back the Panorama route as we hadn't gone there as planned from Sudwala.

That was a long and hard drive before getting on an airplane and flying 16 hours back to Atlanta. We were really exhausted by the time we reached Jacksonville. Has taken us a week to recover, but that could be our age.

Accommodation

Victoria Falls Hotel (Zimbabwe) was beautiful & peaceful... surreal setting.

The African Sky Guest House (near Johannesburg airport) was very pleasant.

Sudwala Lodge (South Africa) was a lovely place for a respite, but too far from the Park for daily drives. The chalet was a bit out-dated... needed new towels, sheets, etc. Very noisy between units.

Our chalets in the Park were great... no surprises. The view of the Sabie River was fantastic. Could have stayed at Skukuza for a week!

Honey badgerSatara was great too. We had monkeys playing in the circle & even a honey badger came visiting in the morning, but I prefer being on the Sabie River :)

We found the people very friendly & helpful everywhere.

Laundry - Sudwala did not allow us to use their machines, but had a lady who did it for us for an inexpensive fee. Did not use in the Park.

Food

The food at Victoria Falls Hotel was not so good.

The restaurant at Sudwala was very good.

The food at the Railroad restaurant at Skukuza was excellent. We did not try any other restaurants there.

Satara's Wooden Banana was OK. We ordered take-out hamburgers... Nothing to brag about!

We shopped at the Super Spar in Nelspruit before entering the park. We did not try using the braii... We did simple food: eggs, bacon & steak at Kruger & Sudwala. The Kruger shops were adequate for our needs. We were mainly looking for sandwich supplies.

Weather

The first two days at Sudwala we had heavy rain all day. We just took advantage of the rain and rested.

Sudwala was a beautiful setting, but units had no sound proofing! Very noisy over the long weekend.

Vic FallsApril was an amazing time to be in Zimbabwe. The Falls were very full and the spray wet us down. We loved the helicopter flight over the Falls as you could see how enormous & powerful they were. All our activities in Vic Falls were excellent. We loved Walking with the lions, the sunset cruise, the helo ride & the Boma restaurant. I would recommend all of them.

No insects anywhere...

Wildlife

Our first Kruger day drive from Malelane gate to Crocodile Bridge (described at the top) was fantastic.

We saw hippos at the watering holes near Satara. Also Cape buffalo and baboons in herds on the tar road up there.

But overall the south part of the park was more productive for sightings.

We were satisfied with the amount of wildlife that we saw and don't think we would have seen more on a guided safari.

Typical Day

In the park we would be out the gate by 6am. Stop at the picnic spot or whatever Wilma recommended and back home by 11 or 12 pm. Take a rest till 3:30 or 4 and then go out again till the gates close.

Other Activities

The night drive into the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve & the boma dinner there were great. We saw 7 rhinos up close & personal... really amazing to be that close and not have them react violently. Saw female cats along the fence after we drove out of the Game Reserve. They were healthy & beautiful. The guide tried to track a leopard, but he was elusive. The boma dinner there at the camp was delicious. They were most hospitable!!!

The Kruger evening drive was less productive, and my husband felt the guide did not stay long enough for pictures when he did find something. Jerry maybe a little slow on the focusing...

Photography

Jerry took Bruce's advice* and bought a Panasonic DMC-FZ28 and was so pleased with our pictures. We may have missed some good shots, but it was due to Jerry's failure to get it all focused before they moved... not the camera or Bruce's advice.

Tips and Advice

Do it! We had never heard of a self-drive safari and think it was fantastic. We loved the Park and the accommodations there.

We took several boxes of "Oatmeal to Go" breakfast bars. I much preferred them to rusks :)

Also the GPS we brought was useful. All the park roads were on it.

Our raincoats came in handy too.

We are rethinking our carry-on luggage... we took way too much! Also took too many clothes, but I always seem to do that! We are going to Europe in August and will definitely lighten the load.

We regret not taking the time to see Cape Town, but would have required more time and money.

Our day in Hazyview was a long & a scary driving back. We went R-40 through Nelspruit & White River for safety. Still a 16 hr day for us.

We saw all the animals we hoped to, except the leopard.

We also would just stay in the park next time....no Sudwala. It was just too far away for daily drives at our age. If I'd stayed in the park the whole time, I would have rated the trip a 10.

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Helen's Safari Details:

Rating: 8/10

Safari agent used: African Safari Journals / self-guided (make an enquiry)

Parks visited: Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) & Kruger National Park (South Africa)

Date of safari: April 19 for 2 weeks

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